Concert FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions.
Classical music is somewhat of a mystery to many people. There are some basic protocols while attending concerts that help everyone enjoy and appreciate the music performed on stage. We’ve provided answers to the questions we are most often asked here.

If there are any other things you’re curious about that we haven’t covered here, please call 415-479-8100 or email us at

How do I purchase tickets?
Subscription tickets are available through the Marin Symphony office at 415-479-8100 or by email at Best seat availability each season is via subscription. 1/2 price student and teacher discounts are available with valid ID.

Single tickets can be purchased directly at the Marin Center Box Office starting August 1, 2016 at 415-473.6800. Single ticket prices range from $40-$75. Special $15 youth pricing is available. Sorry, we do not discount ticket sales to seniors.

Group tickets are available for groups of 10 or more if purchased at the same time. Order group tickets at the Marin Center Box Office at 415-473.6800 starting August 1, 2016.

I am a subscriber and cannot attend on my regular night. Can I exchange my tickets for the other performance?

As a benefit for season subscribers, you may easily exchange your Sunday ticket for Tuesday night’s performance, or your Tuesday ticket for the Sunday afternoon performance. Simply call the Marin Symphony office at 415-479-8100 and we’ll help arrange the exchange. 

If you would like to donate your tickets and use them as a tax deduction, mail your tickets to the Marin Center Box Office (10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael, CA 94901), or stop by the Box Office so that they may be resold to someone else. TICKETS MUST BE RECEIVED 24 HOURS PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED PERFORMANCE. The Marin Symphony will then send you a letter acknowledging your tax deduction.

What should I wear?
Contrary to popular belief, everyone does not wear tuxedos and evening gowns to concerts. Attending a Marin Symphony concert is a very special occasion, so patrons generally dress up a bit (and some like the chance to dress up…and they do!). People usually wear business casual dress. Tradition dictates that musicians and conductors wear formal black evening wear to heighten your symphonic experience by being unified in appearance to limit visual distraction from the music performance.

When should I arrive?
We suggest you arrive at least 30 minutes before the concert is scheduled to begin. This will give you time to find parking, find your seat, relax, read the program notes and watch the musicians as they take the stage. Marin Symphony concerts begin promptly at 3pm on Sundays and 7:30pm on Tuesdays. Latecomers will be seated at the first opportunity so as not to disturb those already in attendance.

Note: You are encouraged to come an hour before the concert starts to hear a discussion of the music with Maestro Alasdair Neale and our featured guest artists (FREE to all ticket holders!).

How long are concerts?
Concerts are typically two hours long, with one 20-minute intermission. If you have to leave a concert before it ends, please do so between program works.

How do concerts begin?
Musicians must prepare for a concert as athletes do for a big game in that they must “warm up.” When you first sit down, you will probably see members of the orchestra gradually filling the stage and warming up by playing their instruments. When the orchestra is ready, the lights dim and the audience becomes silent. The concertmaster (the leader of the first violin section) will enter from backstage. The audience claps and he takes a bow. The concertmaster then turns to the orchestra and cues the principal oboist, who sits in the middle of the orchestra, to play a single note (an A). All the musicians tune their instruments to this note.

Next, the conductor then comes onstage. As the audience applauds again, the conductor may invite the orchestra to stand up to share in the applause. The conductor shakes hands with the concertmaster (since he is the representative of the orchestra). Occasionally, Maestro Neale will also offer a brief introduction to the work about to be performed.

Then, the concert is ready to begin!

When do I clap?
There are two times to clap at a concert: when greeting the maestro and musicians as they take the stage, and as appreciation after the performance of a complete work. People generally applaud when the concertmaster, conductor, and guest artist come onstage. You usually do not applaud again until the end of each piece of music, to show your appreciation to the performers.

It is generally considered proper concert etiquette to clap only after a piece is complete. When composers write music, they want the audience to hear the complete work as a total experience. Some longer pieces may have several sections, or movements, separated by a brief pause. In these pauses, clapping would be considered a disruption to an integrated hearing of the work. The program will list the movements in the piece, so you will know how many there are (and when to hold your applause).

If you are unsure when to applaud, you can always count on this rule of thumb: you know when a work is completed when the conductor turns around and smiles at the audience. At this point, let loose. Yell “bravo!” (for men), “brava!” (for women), and “bravi!” (for the whole orchestra). Keep the applause going for as long as you want to show the musicians, conductor and soloist how much you enjoyed their performance.

What is concert etiquette?
Concert etiquette may be summarized by these simple guidelines. Please remember that everyone attending is likely experiencing a special day or evening out…

1. Please do not bathe in perfume or cologne before the concert (some people are allergic… a light touch is always appreciated).
2. Please do not unwrap candies, cough drops, presents, etc. during the concert (simply unwrap them before the concert and at intermission).
3. Please do not whisper, talk, hum, sing, or conduct with the music.
4. Please do not leave on any cell phone, pager, watch alarm or anything else that rings or beeps (please make sure they are turned OFF).
5. Please ensure that all electronic hearing aids and/or other health assistance devices are correctly and noiselessly adjusted.
6. In general, respect the concert experience of other members of the audience as you would like them to respect yours.